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Stefanos Tsitsipas makes his career breakthrough in Barcelona

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Stefanos Tsitsipas makes his career breakthrough in Barcelona

It’s hard to imagine Stefanos Tsitsipas hadn’t won a single ATP tour-level match on clay a month ago when you watch the great prowess he showed last week. Still, it tells something about the speed with which the Next Gen ATP star has made progress over the last one and a half years.

 

A few months shy of his 20th birthday, Team Mouratoglou’s Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated the world No. 150, 17, 40, 7 and 11 — all in straight sets, none of them with a margin slimmer than 7-5 — en route to his first tour-level final at the Barcelona ATP 500 tournament.

 

Perhaps his most thrilling victory came over Dominic Thiem, a two-time French Open semifinalist and last year’s Barcelona runner-up. The only player to beat Rafael Nadal on clay last year, Thiem is arguably considered as the world's second best player on this surface.

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas dismantled him in the Barcelona quarterfinals (6-3, 6-2), taking revenge on two losses that came at the hands of the Austrian earlier this year — in Doha and Indian Wells.

 

It is not rare to see the underdog waver in backing up a major upset, but Tsitsipas showed no sign of it in a semifinal masterclass against another clay-court specialist in Pablo Carreño-Busta. The celebration that followed will undoubtedly be featured in this year’s ATP highlight reel.

 

 

Funnily enough, Tsitsipas' run had all the hallmarks of a Cinderella story — quite literally.

 

 

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However, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal proved simply too much for Tsitsipas in the final (6-2, 6-1), the Spaniard clinching his 11th title in Barcelona.

 

In his runner-up speech, Stefanos Tsitsipas thanked the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy and the Champ’seed Foundation (also created by Patrick Mouratoglou) for supporting him over the last three years.

 

 

Thanks to his Barcelona run, Tsitsipas broke into the ATP top 50 on Monday, April 30. At #44, he’s now the second teenager in the top 50 alongside Canada’s Denis Shapovalov. 

 

He also became the first player born in 1998 to make an ATP 500 final, joining an impressive list of first-timers. 

 

 

A little bit of tennis history to finish with? Before Tsitsipas, no Greek male player had made an ATP tour-level final since… 1973.

 

His pure, majestic one-handed backhand might help Tsitsipas eclipse many other records in the coming years.

 


 

 

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